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Passover

What It Means To Be Prepared

In this week’s Torah portion, Parashat Bo, the Israelites are given precise directions for how to prepare and eat the Passover sacrifice. The text describes what kind of animal to bring (a yearling lamb or baby goat without blemish) and who should eat it (each family, gathered together as a household). The Torah explains how the sacrifice should be prepared (roasted over an open fire, cooked or served with unleavened bread and bitter herbs). And it gives instructions for when the Israelites should eat the sacrifice (at night, leaving nothing behind until morning). The text not only describes how the Israelites should prepare the meat of the sacrifice, but also how they were to prepare themselves:

D'var Torah By: 
When It’s Good to Eat on the Run
Davar Acher By: 
Rabbi Ira Rosenberg

“This is how you shall eat it: your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it hurriedly: it is a passover offering to the Eternal” (Ex.12:11). Why is tonight different from all other nights? This question that is brought forward during our Passover seder is central to this week’s parashah, Bo. ... Parashat Bo concludes with the commandment to “remember this day, on which you went free from Egypt, the house of bondage, how the Eternal freed you from it with a mighty hand; no leavened bread shall be eaten” (Ex.13:3).

It’s All About the Question Mark

My elementary school teacher believed the question mark was inspired by the curiosity of the cat....  At this season, Jews around the world will begin the holiday of Passover, the “holiday of questions.” Passover is known by many other names, but this association with questions is linked all the way back to the Torah. 

D'var Torah By: 
Encouraging Our Children to Be Curious on Passover
Davar Acher By: 
Rabbi Jen Lader

One of the things I love about having a smartphone is having an endless amount of information at my fingertips at all times....  For this Yom Rishon shel Pesach, Rabbi Ben Spratt speaks to the importance of questioning as we sit together at our Passover seders, encouraging our children to engage, to ask, to stay curious, to develop a sense of wonder in the world around them. But in a time and place when we can find answers almost instantaneously, how can we make the argument that questioning is essential to who we are?

Honoring the Innocent Victims of Conflict

The drama of Parashat Bo is mostly terrifying. The mounting confrontation between the Israelites – represented by Moses and Aaron (but really God) – and the Egyptians – represented by an unnamed Pharaoh – reaches its crescendo with the last three of the ten plagues. We should strive to remember all of the innocent victims on both sides of every conflict.

D'var Torah By: 
Responsibility for the Mixed Multitude
Davar Acher By: 
Rabbi Rachael Jackson

In his commentary on Parashat Bo, I appreciate Rabbi Reuven Greenvald’s pointing out that the focus of Moshe, Rivka Miriam’s poem, is an innocent child. There are a great many innocent characters in this climax of the Exodus story. And Moses seems to know this, which is why he does not negotiate during the eighth and ninth plagues.

Bringing Up Israel: Parenting a New Nation

Recently, my daughter and I had an exchange that felt like we were enacting an ancient script between parents and teenagers. It left me wondering where on earth this script comes from, and how I ended up with the parental role.This week’s parashah, B’haalot’cha, provides some answers. God and the people of Israel struggle: the people are tired of manna, yearn for the food of Egypt, and cry out for meat. 

D'var Torah By: 
Teaching the Value of Gratitude
Davar Acher By: 
Rabbi Phyllis A. Sommer

Rabbi Grushcow sees B’haalot’cha as a parental negotiation-gone-wrong between God and the Israelites, and I do agree that this is one of the more concrete examples of this kind of relationship in the Torah. And yet, God's response can be, for us, a reminder that gratitude must be taught and reinforced.

The Educational Value of Repetition

Leviticus, a priestly book, has as its primary focus an emphasis on the cleanliness of the community and its adherence to ritual matters for the sake of God’s blessings. … In the portion called, Emor, a significant redundancy occurs in the Hebrew text. We read that God said to Moses: Emor el hakohanim b’nei Aharon, ve-amarta aleihem… “Speak to the priests, the sons of Aaron, and you shall say to them…” (Leviticus 21:1).

D'var Torah By: 
Who Is Responsible to Teach the Next Generation?
Davar Acher By: 
Rabbi Brigitte Rosenberg

Rabbi Lyon in his commentary, beautifully discusses the double use of the verb emor/amarta as an injunction for parents to teach their children the ways of Torah and mitzvot. It’s a wonderful lesson, but what happens when parents fail to do so? 

The Power of God as Torah

The Torah reading for this Shabbat from the Book of Exodus tells of the Israelites’ successful flight from slavery in Egypt. As we hear the chanting of the exultant Song at the Sea recalling that triumphant escape, let us continue to draw strength from Torah in facing challenges today.

D'var Torah By: 
The Spiritual Joy of Song
Davar Acher By: 
Rabbi Ben Zeidman

The Torah portion for Yom Rishon shel Pesach tells us that the night the Israelites prepared to leave Egypt, "was for the Eternal a night of vigil." The vigil continues, and our Festival begins with the seder to retell the story of our redemption. Our seders are usually full of singing. Even so, may we look for opportunities to sing more often. May we more regularly allow song to inspire us to have hope and faith.

Thinking Big and Failing Fast

In Parashat Bo, the plagues continue with increasing intensity. As the Egyptians and the Israelites learn to recognize God’s power, is it possible that God, too, is learning to make each successive plague more effective?

D'var Torah By: 
How the Plagues Recall Creation
Davar Acher By: 
Rabbi Lydia Medwin

With the increasing severity of the ten plagues in Bo, God is teaching the Egyptians, the Israelites, and us, an important lesson. Through an understanding of God’s power, we can see the inextricable link between nature and collective morality. As our planet and so many people all over the world suffer from the weight of our collective decisions as humankind to consume without regard to consequences, we are called in this parashah to reexamine our own relationship with God and our humble place in the cosmos, and to realign ourselves with goodness and life for the sake of all Creation.

If You Missed It the First Time

In Numbers 9:7 some people who cannot offer the Passover sacrifice at its set time approach Moses saying what amounts to, “We want to bring a sanctified offering to God. It isn’t fair that we are not allowed to do it.” God's answer is that they can still participate, but a month later on a day called Pesach Sheini – the Second Passover.

D'var Torah By: 
Pesach Sheni: A Model for Reform Observance
Davar Acher By: 
Rabbi Ilana Schachter

Priding ourselves on radical inclusion, the Reform Movement encourages everyone to participate in Jewish life and ritual as a means to connect to one another and to the Divine. In instances where observing rituals at appointed times hinders this connection, we too have written responsa and crafted policies for sheni, second chances for rituals and adaptations in Jewish practice. 

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